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Release: March 19, 1999

Disselhorst will inaugurate refurbished Clapp Hall organ with all-Bach program March 28

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Organist Delbert Disselhorst, a member of the University of Iowa School of Music faculty, will play a recital of the music of J.S. Bach at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 28 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Disselhorst's recital will be the first use of the organ in Clapp Recital Hall in about a year. The Casavant firm of Canada, makers of the instrument, has been working to install a new solid-state combination action system and completely refurbish the organ console -- work that was necessary, Disselhorst said, after 27 years of intensive use. "Conservatively estimated, the original installation had close to 100,000 hours of use," he said.

Disselhorst also explained that the organ will also have new resources for the player. "The new solid-state system allows the storing of more than 3,000 stop combinations" -- different groupings of pipes -- "rather than 25 as in the original system."

The organ was built as part of Clapp Recital Hall in 1972. The inaugural concert, Sept. 6, 1972, was performed by Disselhorst and Gerhard Krapf, a former member of the School of Music faculty.

The recent work on the instrument has been done by Carroll Hanson, Casavant representative and curator of organs at the UI.

One of the most esteemed composers and organists in history, J.S. Bach wrote music that is considered an essential part of the organ repertory. Bach's music has also been a large part of Disselhorst's performances at the UI.

"Since the organ hasn't been used for the past year, I thought maybe the best way to hear it was in Bach's music, which people seem to enjoy hearing and which I certainly enjoy playing," Disselhorst said. "I deliberately selected works that occupy a particularly significant position among Bach's compositions. The toccata, the chorale prelude, the fugue, the chorale partita and the prelude and fugue are all compositional types that Bach inherited from his predecessors, and that he used throughout his career."

For the March 28 concert, Disselhorst will perform four major works written specifically for organ:
--the Toccata in C major, S. 564;
--the chorale prelude "O man, bewail your great sins," S622, from the "Orgelbuechlein" ("Little organ book"), a collection of pieces based upon Lutheran choral melodies that were well known to the congregations in the Lutheran churches where Bach played;
--the chorale partita, or variations on the chorale tune "Hail, Kind Jesus," S.768; and
--the Prelude and Fugue in E minor, S. 548.

In addition to these works, Disselhorst will play organ arrangements of several works from Bach's "Musical Offering." A result of Bach's visit to the court of King Frederick the Great near Berlin in 1747, "The Musical Offering" includes a number of works based upon a theme that the King himself had given Bach to improvise on during his visit.

Disselhorst will play organ arrangements of four canons -- pieces in strict counterpoint that were intended to show off the composer's skill -- and the "Ricercar a 6," a contrapuntal development in six parts of the royal theme and its related motives.

Disselhorst has been a member of the UI School of Music faculty since 1970. He holds both bachelor's and master's degrees in music from the University of Illinois, where he graduated as a Bronze Tablet Scholar. As a recipient of a Fulbright grant in organ, he also studied at the Staatliche Hochschule fuer Musik in Frankfurt, Germany. He earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan.

As a concert artist, Disselhorst has performed in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has appeared as a recitalist for several regional conventions and for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Houston, Texas, in 1989. Tours of Europe have included recitals in Denmark, Germany and France.

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